The University of Manitoba Bisons women’s hockey team came back from a game down to defeat the Saskatchewan Huskies 2-1 in their quarterfinal series, including a wild fifth-overtime win in the decisive third game.
The Bisons dropped a 3-0 decision in game one with forward Kaitlin Willoughby scoring a natural hat trick.
Just a minute after pulling back to even strength in the first period, the Bisons dropped down a point, making it 1-0 for the Huskies. Willoughby converted a pass along the boards from Lauren Zary up over Rachel Dyck’s shoulder for the lead.
The Huskies continued to apply pressure in the second period, yet the score remained 1-0.
Offensive defenceman Julia Flinton made her mark in the third period, setting up Willoughby in the slot for a 2-0 lead. She then recorded her second assist of the evening, playing the puck up to Willoughby for an empty netter with 1:36 left to go.
Despite having a fair number of chances to score, the Bisons could not beat the Huskies’ goalie Cassidy Hendricks. She made 23 saves to earn the shutout. Dyck performed valiantly in the loss, with 28 saves to her credit on 30 shots.
After falling 3-0 in the post-season opener, the Bisons evened the series with a convincing 5-1 win in game two.
The herd knocked out four unanswered goals after Julia Flinton opened the scoring for the Huskies. The away side also opted to swap goaltenders for the occasion and Amanda Schubert made her post-season debut.
Down 1-0 to a Flinton point-shot and nearing the end of the first period, Venla Hovi converted Alanna Sharman’s pass on a two-on-one for a buzzer-beating equalizer.
As soon as the second period started, the Bisons began to take advantage of their momentum. Shorthanded, Sharman broke in on a breakaway and was just put off by a Cassidy Hendricks pokecheck.
Midway through the second, Hovi took an opportunity in the slot to beat Hendricks for a 2-1 Bisons lead.
Late in the frame, game two appeared to have slipped away from the Huskies. Lauryn Keen linked with Sharman on the rush, with Sharman outmaneuvering Hendricks to make it a 3-1 game. Keen’s assist gave her three points on the night.
The second-year forward continued to leave her impression on game two as it entered the third period. The Sharman-Keen combination struck again for the Bisons, and it was Keen this time around who beat Hendricks for a 4-1 stranglehold.
Kayleigh Wiens rounded out the scoring, ensuring that the Bisons’ commanding 5-1 victory would keep their season alive and gift them opportunity at advancing in the playoffs on Sunday night.
Although it took a record-breakingly long time to get there, the sensational winning goal was well worth it. Finnish star Venla Hovi became the overtime hero as the Manitoba Bisons completed the series comeback in game three with a 2-1 win that required five overtime periods to clinch a second-round berth.
The goal at 9:02 of the fifth overtime period ended the longest hockey game in Canada West history, surpassing a record set by the Huskies and Regina Cougars two years ago, which took four overtimes.
Manitoba opened the scoring just 11 seconds into the contest. With the goal, Keen notched her sixth point in the last two games assisted by Hovi and Sharman.
With the lead hanging in the balance, the Bisons called Amanda Schubert into action. The third-year goaltender kept the away team in front with a stupendous display in the second period. She stopped all 13 shots she faced in the frame, as the Bisons were outshot 17-12 through two periods.
Saskatchewan responded midway through the third period. Lauren Zary scored the equalizer with an assist going to Kaitlin Willoughby – her fourth point of the playoffs.
Hovi ended the game finishing off Sharman’s pass on a two-on-one rush. Sharman and Keen had the assists on the game-winner, both their second points in the game.
Both goaltenders stood out in a battle of individual supremacy. Schubert, who finished the game with 66 saves on 67 shots, has now cemented her place as the Bisons’ starter when they visit the Alberta Pandas next week. Cassidy Hendricks finished with 40 saves on 42 shots.